SIR DOUG Nicholls Round is one of the league’s great traditions, providing players, staff and fans with the opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture.
But this year, the Melbourne Football Club’s approach has been slightly different.
Instead of asking the Dees’ five Indigenous players – Toby Bedford, Neville Jetta, Steven May, Kysaiah Pickett and Deakyn Smith – to do the talking, Indigenous Project Officer, Matthew Whelan, has encouraged the education to come from other sources.
“The problem with the Indigenous space is everyone leaves it up to the Indigenous people to do the work,” Whelan said on The Talking Points.
“So that’s why I’m big on including non-Indigenous people and they can champion the causes for us as well.
“All the boys have great relationships at the footy club and the boys are more than happy to jump on board any time we ask them to.”
In recent years, the discussions have increased in this space, but there is no denying that the understanding is still not at the level it needs to be.
“We’ve made big strides and I think the AFL has been a leader with the racial vilification policy and that sort of stuff,” Whelan said.
“A lot of the major sports are leading the way.
“Only three percent of the population is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and I think about nine or 10 percent of the playing lists at AFL clubs are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
“It’s a great thing for our sport, that Aboriginal people or Torres Strait Islander people choose AFL to play, but in wider society I think we’ve got a long way to go.”
To learn more about Indigenous culture, watch Whelan on this week’s episode of The Talking Points below.